I came home from work last night, and checked the mail, like I do every night when I get home from work. Inside my mailbox lurked what was possibly the most ridiculous piece of mail I’ve received in a long while.
This came on the heels of me being mistaken for a Pregnant, so there were at least two ways to interpret the mail. One: the universe and my parents are conspiring to set up my rapidly waning fertility with some still-virile silver fox, and make a cosmic match. This magazine was the harbinger of that blessed sequence of events. Or two: it wasn’t enough for me to feel very over-30 and extremely divorced these days, and the glossy was some sort of nasty snicker the universe was having at my expense.
I did what any normal woman would do under the circumstances: I messaged Miss Mal, and asked if she wanted the magazine. She’ll get engaged soon enough. It made sense for her to have something like that. If I kept it, I would probably stare at it contemptuously and say: What? What are you looking at?? to an inanimate object. To a stack of slick, bound paper.
As I was setting the magazine aside, it fell open to a page where one of those annoying subscription cards had been inserted. On the page opposite of the card was an article about destination weddings on the Monterey Peninsula, California. What luck!
I’d spent so much time on that godforsaken strip of land when I was getting divorced. I’d filed my papers, then fled the East Coast as fast as I could fly. I would take early morning flights out of JFK; Reagan National; Dulles — which ever city I was calling home that week — and I’d land at SFO in the still-early San Francisco morning. Sometimes, I’d be coming from Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, depending upon my meeting schedules. And I’d drive down the coast, like it was nothing, like I was still in my early twenties and I was leaving my ex-boyfriend’s family’s house to go back to the LA basin, but taking the alternative route. Like I was forsaking I-5 for the 101. Maybe I needed salt air instead of the Central Valley dust; as if I were choosing Steinbeck over…Steinbeck.
I cowered on that coast the year I ended my life as I knew it — I took shelter at the foot of the cliffs; on the beaches. I sucked in the sticky night air as I gasped for breath. I was holding on to friends; holding on for dear life. But eventually, I righted the ship and moved on. Like a proper New Yorker, I began anew on the Upper East Side — about as far away from Monterey as a girl could go and still stay in the States.
A few years later, I went back to that part of the West Coast to see Legs get married. It had been the week of the car accident. And that week I’d again cowered in the Bay Area, my arm in a sling, holding on to one of the same friends from the earlier days — someone who’d just happened to be passing through the airport at the same time I was. Asking some of the same questions; similarly shell-shocked.
So. That happened.
And then fast forward to the present day, and there I was, last night, in my apartment on the Upper East Side, staring down Destination Weddings & Honeymoons on the Monterey Peninsula. Remembering what it felt like when I still had seats at the opera and drove a Jaguar and could feel the outline of his ring on my finger. Recalling the sound of my voice saying my Three Names (First, Maiden, Married).
But the feeling passed, as quickly as it came on. Monterey was the last place I felt that feeling; where no one knew I was shaking off the vestiges of spousehood. It feels odd now to barely be able to recall the feeling of being someone’s wife.
I flipped the magazine over on my desk.
And now, it seems like waves of change are washing over me, though I don’t exactly know why — or how. My best friend and I keep reassuring each other that this is indeed happening, and it will be great, whatever’s to come.
In August, it will be three years since I left my husband. It will be three years since I fled first to East Hampton to make a decision, then I was off to California.
Places, as I’ve previously discovered, are just places. The sticky air in Monterey and in East Hampton was just salt, and water. None of it was magic, or doom. And the way we get to where we’re going is just the path. It was merely an airplane that took me to California, not fate — at least, not fate alone.
What I’m saying is that change is upon me. But Destination Weddings & Honeymoons was just a magazine, and it came to me by the U.S. Postal Service.
Sometimes, things need to be cut down to size, so you can see them — and appreciate them — for the good things that they are.